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Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sydney, Australia
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Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hi everyone,

We're looking for some help please.

We are Australians, living in the UK, travelling to the USA for our very first road trip. We have 8 nights & 9 days available to us and were thinking of exploring the Shenandoah National Park & the Blue Ridge Parkway. But we know very little about the area and after spending several days scouring the TripAdvisor forums we are now more dazed & confused than ever.

The plan is:

Fly into Washington DC, collect our rental car and drive straight out to Front Royal.

From Front Royal the intention is to follow Skyline Drive to Waynesboro.

Then onto the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville.

Before heading to Atlanta.

Now we aren't serious hikers. We're more of a "pull up, gasp in awe, take some very ordinary photos, get on our way" kind'a people. So our questions are:

= Do you think 8 nights / 9 days too long?

= Can anyone suggest an itinerary to cover 8 nights / 9 days?

= What are the must see spots?

= Are there any small towns / hotels / B&Bs, where you would recommend an overnight stay?

= Are there any restaurants that you'd recommend along the way?

Thanks

Matt

Ohio
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1. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Skyline Drive has lots of pull offs for "gasps and photos" :) You can comfortably do the drive in a day. The Blue Ridge Parkway does not nearly as many pull offs. A lot of "driving amongst trees". I'd not want to travel the whole thing. Also, you have to get off the parkway and into a town for lodging and food.

If you are looking for a get away in the hills, I'd suggest the Smokies. Plenty of lodging, restaurants, things to do, etc--

Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Agree with wings. Be sure and drive the Cades Cove Loop Rd. for scenery, waterfalls, and wildlife. Townsend, TN is a nice place to stay and has some lodging and restaurants but away from the crowds of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Chapel Hill, North...
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3. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

I like the Blue Ridge Parkway better than Skyline Dr, myself.

What do you like to do besides snap a photo?

Do you like short walks/hikes? There are plenty of those available, too, as well as more strenuous ones.

Do you like shopping? Arts & crafts? Music? Whitewater rafting? Tubing down a lazy river? Caving/Spelunking? Visiting a tourist cavern? Outdoor theater? Ziplining? Historic homes? Very fancy gigantic historic homes? Horseback riding? Museums? Gem-Mining? Waterfalls? Eating great food? Drinking great beer and wine? Touring breweries and wineries? Trying to catch an elusive glimpse of wildlife or seeing some animals in enclosed natural habitats? Rollercoasters and theme parks? I'm sure I left out a jillion things, but you can do all this in the area.

Give us some more specifics and we can help you craft an itinerary that will hit your high spots.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

What time of year?

Among the not-to-be-missed places IMO is Charlottesville VA. Visit the University of Virginia grounds, designed by Thomas Jefferson, and also his home at Monticello, just outside Charlottesville. Farther south, a visit to Jefferson's second home, Poplar Forest, just outside Lynchburg VA.

University of VA - http://gardyloo.us/20110423_62as.JPG and http://gardyloo.us/20110423_55as.JPG

Monticello - http://gardyloo.us/20110424_17as.JPG

Poplar Forest - http://gardyloo.us/20110426_30as.JPG

Liverpool, UK
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5. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

I've driven the whole length of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway and 8 nights/9 days is too long - you can comfortably do it in 3 nights/4 days giving you time for a stop in the Great Smokeys NP which I highly recommend.

On the Skyline Drive one of the few places to stop is Skyland Resort near Luray and Luray Caverns shouldn't be missed in my opinion.

www.goshenandoah.com/Skyland-Resort.aspx

http://luraycaverns.com/

Vestal, New York
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6. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

In North Carolina, you could take a detour off the BRP and check out some of the lovely waterfalls near Brevard - the ones in the Dupont National Forest are especially lovely.

Roanoke, VA is a pleasant town and the Winston Link museum there is definitely worth checking out.

Ditto Lexington, VA - Natural Bridge and Goshen Pass are a couple of worthwhile nearby attractions.

I agree with the other posters that the Smoky Mountains should be on your list - just avoid Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge. Bryson City is a good lodging choice on the NC side if you don't want to use Asheville as your base when visiting there.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for all your help, we really appreciate it. After looking at all the information we've received we have come up with the following itinerary. It's only rough and it averages out to about 4 hours driving per day. So we'd love to hear your feedback on places to add / drop / stop.

Day 1:

Land Washington Dulles Airport 6pm. Drive to Front Royal (overnight).

Day 2:

Front Royal. Skyline Drive through Luray. Waynesboro. Charlotte (overnight).

Day 3:

Charlotte (University of Virginia). Monticello. Back through Waynesboro. Goshen Pass. Lexington VA. Natural Bridge. Roanoke VA (overnight)

Day 4:

Roanoke VA. Cherokee National forest TN. Boone NC (overnight).

Day 5:

Boone NC. Grandfather Mountain. Asheville. Brevard NC. Dupont State Forest NC. Back to Asheville (overnight).

Day 6:

Asheville. Cherokee NC. Townsend TN. Cades Cove Loop Road. Back to Townsend TN (overnight).

Thanks again and we look forward to hearing from you.

Matt

Edited: 19 March 2014, 11:16
Chapel Hill, North...
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8. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Really wish you would say what your interests are.

I wouldn't like your itinerary for myself, but without knowing your interests I can't say if it would be good for you or not.

(BTW, it's CharlottesVILLE, VA and Charlotte NC. They are two very different places. I only mention this because you may get some bad info if you search on Charlotte when you mean Charlottesville.)

I think you are greatly shorting Boone/Blowing Rock and also shorting Asheville. Those areas and the Smokies are the places I would be most interested in, but YMMV.

Edited: 19 March 2014, 13:45
conn
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9. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

I would stay your first night in SNP itself eather at Skyland or Big meadows its not much longer drive and there is a center magic to morning on the mountain. You also can do a evening program in the park if one is offered that night.

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: Shenandoah National Park & Blue Ridge Parkway.

Again, when?